Oamaru’s Matt Davey will recreate the journey taken by a Fiordland man on an epic dash for help after a plane crashed more than 80 years ago, all in the name of charity.
On December 30, 1936, a de Havilland Fox Moth plane crashed into the sea at Big Bay, off the coast of Fiordland, injuring the pilot and five passengers, one of whom died soon afterwards.
Davey Gunn, a farmer and guide on the Hollyford Track, was nearby at the time and on seeing the crash set off on a remarkable trek to raise the alarm.
He travelled 90km from Big Bay to Marian Corner in 21 hours by foot, rowing boat and horse, a journey that normally took four days.
A plaque at Marian Corner, which is about 87km from Te Anau on the Milford Highway, commemorates the trek, which earned Mr Gunn a King George VI Coronation Medal in 1937.
In November, Mr Davey scaled North Otago’s three highest peaks – Mt Kohurau (2009m), Mt Domett (1942m) and Mt Bitterness (1910m) – in fewer than 12 hours to raise $695 for Mental Health NZ.
A former Hollyford Track guide himself, Mr Davey said he had always planned a second trek and believed recreating Mr Gunn’s journey was the perfect idea.
“I used to tell stories all about Davey Gunn to people and I guess I felt a bit of a connection to him. Also, his family lived near Oamaru, so there’s that connection too.”
Mr Davey, who has experienced his own mental health issues in the form of depression, will ride a mountain bike where Mr Gunn rode a horse, and kayak where he travelled by rowing boat.
He said the terrain would be “very tough” but he hoped to complete the journey in less than 21 hours.
“I would like to do it a bit quicker, but I’m a bit nervous about it .. It’s more of a mental game. With my last run, even though it was fairly remote, I could see a road off in the distance. This one is in the middle of nowhere.”